Sunday in Andersonville with Jeff
Andersonville, for those who aren’t familiar with Chicago’s North Side neighborhoods, is an area surrounding Clark Street, its business heart, from around 5000 N to 5700 N or so. The local Web site says it goes all the way north to Elmdale (which is 6000 N), but we used to live on Elmdale, and I would put that street very firmly in Edgewater. But enough geographical quibbling.
Since it was such a nice day, we decided to park in our old neighborhood, on Norwood, the next street north from our old Elmdale digs. The parking is more available on that street. At any rate, we parked and hoofed it south to Andersonville.
On the way, we passed through our old neighborhood, taking in the changes and drinking in nostalgia for the places that hadn’t changed. We passed by Senn High School, a massive building that we used to joke conjured up visions of Soviet municipal architecture. But somehow, it looked much more inviting than it used to. Did they plant more trees on the expansive grounds? I don’t know, but it didn’t look nearly as forbidding as it once did.
We hit Clark at Balmoral and proceeded south along the east side of the street. Our first stop was the Kopi Café, a neighborhood fixture. That strip of Clark has gone through many changes in the last few years—it retains its eclectic nature, but it now has a Starbucks and a few other coffee houses, and I worried that the Kopi Café might be overwhelmed by the competition. I shouldn’t have bitten my nails over it. It was just the same as ever, with great, fresh food and superlative coffee. They still have the little boutique in the back, and I bought a turquoise sundress—on sale!
From there, we strolled down the street, checking into dress shops (poor Jeff!) and antique shops, and a great ephemera store called Foursided where I bought a couple of cool retro tile coasters—on sale!
I don’t recall the name of the antique shop we poked around in--it was on the west side of the street—but it was a good old-fashioned junk shop with merchandise piled chock-a-block throughout the store. Jeff spied a Royal manual typewriter, the very model of which he had used for years in his youth. There was a VERY cool library card catalog that we both coveted, but since we were on foot… Ah well. There was also a skeery stuffed and mounted goat head, which could be had for a mere $48. But one must ask oneself, why on Earth would someone want to stuff and mount a goat head? It’s not as if it were some kind of wild game a hunter would be proud of bagging. Maybe it was a family pet? A superlative milk giver? A top-notch can nibbler? Who knows? Anyway, it had a yellow straw Easter bonnet perched on its head. Yeah.
On the way back to the car, we strolled down Berwyn, where one of the most baroque, eccentric graystones in the city is located. That place is so cool to look at. I wonder what it’s like inside. Although if this thread is to be taken seriously, maybe this book is better not judged by its cover.
We walked back toward our car along the shaded blocks of Glenwood, amidst the sun dappling down on the two-flats and the shouting of joyful sports fans filtering out of the open windows. Something amazing must have happened, but we forgot to check and see what it was by the time we returned home. We chuckled at a Statue of Liberty lawn sprinkler along our route—I wish we had one!
We turned west on Elmdale to take a turn by our old building—the first place we shared together in Chicago. It still looks nice—a modest but well-kept courtyard building. We proceeded north to Norwood and east to our car, passing one of my favorite houses along the way. In the midst of two-story, foursquare homes, this little brick bungalow always captured my heart on my runs around the neighborhood. One day as I ran past, I saw the family whose home it was having a picnic in the front yard on blanket, and a cuter little family you could never hope to find. I’m ashamed to say that my gut reaction to that was deep and nasty envy: how come THEY get to have such a cute little house??? No fair!! The negative and visceral nature of my response upset and shamed me. Then I came back to reality: what better folks to live in and love that home? And love it they (or whoever lives there now, if not them) clearly do—the place is neat as a pin and sports a lovely garden in the front and in the side yards. On Sunday, under bright blue skies, that made me smile.